Are you participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November? Even if you’re dedicated to joining in this crazy movement, you may still be wondering how to write a novel in 30 days.
Completing a book will be a new endeavor for me, and maybe it is for you too. I’ve gathered the ultimate list of resources to help you and me prepare to write the first draft of a novel!
Determine what your writing weaknesses are as you prepare to write a novel for NaNoWriMo. Do you struggle to finish writing a story? If so, what is it that holds you back?
There are several reasons I haven’t finished a novel. Maybe you can relate to my list:
I don’t know where my story is going.
I don’t know my characters well enough.
I struggle with plot structure.
How about you? What are your struggles? Identifying your pain points will help you to know where to focus most as you prepare for NaNoWriMo. And your preparation will allow you to work quickly so you can write 50,000 words in 30 days.
Maybe you have a story idea but have no idea how to structure a novel. These resources will help you create a backbone for your story and bring it to life. I genuinely believe that anybody who wants to tell a story should be able to, whether you’ve never written a single page of fiction in your life or you’ve been writing since you were a kid.
Check out these incredible resources to get a kick start on writing a novel in 30 days:
If you’ve ever quit writing your novel before you’ve made much progress, try brainstorming. Eva Langston might as well be speaking to me in her blog post about the importance of brainstorming before you begin a writing project. She says, “To write a better novel, spend more time prewriting.”
How to Write Novels in One Key Step from Eva Langston
Cris Freese gives ideas on how to effectively brainstorm a novel in this article from Writer’s Digest. Of course, brainstorming is the time to let your imagination run wild, but sometimes even a free run needs a little direction.
How to Brainstorm: Give Your Brain Free Rein from Writer’s Digest
“To write a better novel, spend more time prewriting.”
I was surprised to learn there are multiple methods for outlining a novel. There’s no right way to do it— choose the process that appeals most to you.
Shauna Philp details an intricate outline that helps writers create a plan for a novel while also getting to know characters. I plan to use this outlining technique.
How to Outline a Novel from Shauna Philp
I pretty much spent my entire Saturday night scouring K.M. Weiland’s site Helping Writers Become Authors. Her content is incredible, and she goes into extensive detail about writing techniques. The link below will lead you to her series of posts on how to outline your novel.
She also has a book, Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success. I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t wait to get to it after the book I’m currently reading.
How to Outline Your Novel from Helping Writers Become Authors
I also love Kristen Keiffer’s site, Well Storied, and am a regular visitor. She describes different outlining methods to help you determine which works best for your style of writing.
Finding the Novel Outlining Process that Works for You from Well Storied
Kristen mentions the “snowflake” method in her post. In this outlining process, you would start small and build up to more detail about your novel as you go through the ten steps. By the end of the process, you should be ready to write your first draft.
The Snowflake Method for Designing a Novel from Advanced Fiction Writing
What topics do you need to research to make your novel more authentic? Is there a place or time period you need to learn about?
One of my main characters in the novel I’m writing for NaNoWriMo has amnesia. I’ve seen plenty of movies with characters who have amnesia, so I could try to write without researching.
But that is a sure way I could botch this character’s situation.
I don’t want his situation to seem cheesy or unreal, so I’m going to learn how amnesia affects different people, as well as the different types of amnesia people can contract.
Check out Kristen Keifer’s tips on how to research your novel effectively, including tips on how to interview, search the internet or books, and make good use of museums.
How to Research Your Novel Effectively from Well Storied
Tauri Cox also provides actionable tips to research a novel:
How to Research Your Novel in 11 Steps from Tauri Cox
Creating an effective plot structure is a weakness of mine. How about you?
I get excited about an idea without thinking of how all the pieces and characters will fit together. If this sounds familiar to you, check out these incredible resources:
K.M. Weiland provides another series of blog posts about story structure. She also has an inexpensive eBook about the same topic, titled Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story.
The Secrets of Story Structure (Complete Series) from Helping Writers Become Authors
Meghan Rogers details the 3-Act Character Arc and Story Structure, which focuses on building both the character and plot.
Novel Plot Structure: 3-Act Tension Plot from A Well Told Story
I hadn’t thought of focusing on scene structure, but scenes are what build up the plot.
Now Novel provides several tips for writing great scenes, including how to start and end a scene.
How to Write a Scene: Purpose and Structure from Now Novel
In this guest post on Jerry Jenkins’ blog, C.S. Lakin maps out eight steps to writing great scenes.
8 Steps to Writing a Perfect Scene – Every Time from Jerry Jenkins’ Website
A well-crafted novel will mean nothing if you don’t have well-developed characters. Creating realistic characters can be a challenge, but all of these resources will bring you closer to knowing and understanding the people who make up your story.
Kylie Day created a list of questions to help you create a unique voice for your character:
How to Develop the Voice of Your Character from The Writing Kylie
Dig deep with this list of questions from The Novel Factory. These questions range from get-to-know-you information to more personal details about your character.
The Ultimate Character Questionnaire from The Novel Factory
What if your character isn’t likable? How can you keep your readers engaged? Meghan Rogers gives tips on how to write about a character you wouldn’t want to invite to dinner.
Character Writing Tips: Unlikable vs. Not Understood from A Well Told Story
Kristen Kieffer created an entire workbook to help you develop characters who will make an impression. It costs, but she uses “pay-as-you-go,” so the price is anywhere from $1-$9 (or more if you can).
Crafting Incredible Characters from Well Storied
And as a bonus, K.M. Weiland provides this extensive (as usual) list of common writing mistakes. Don’t get lost in this, but use it as a guide to improve your writing!
Most Common Writing Mistakes from Helping Writers Become Authors
To learn how to speed up your writing, check out 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter by Chris Fox. This is what I’m currently reading because I still want to be able to blog and spend time with my family while I’m writing a novel. 😉 It has excellent reviews, and it has been helpful so far. I’ll provide a full review once I’m done (I’m a slow reader).
I’d love to hear about your NaNoWriMo project! Tell me about it in the comments!